By special contributor Alexandra Forbes
It had been years, literally, since I wanted to eat at Eleven Madison Park, and after the restaurant got a glowing, 4-star review in The New York Times I knew it couldn't wait any longer: I had to see it for myself!
The space is stunning: high ceilings, giant flower arrangements, historical and bathed in natural light.
Almost as soon as we sat down they brought us beautiful little canapés of radishes and cucumber with salmon.
Choosing from the prix fixe menu (the only menu available at lunch) was tough. Nice problem to have, considering the price is a mere US$ 28.
And it's not just the menu that costs US$28. The wine list has a "Page $28" where everything costs - yes, you guessed it! - US$ 28, from a bottle of Saumur-Champigny from the Loire, to an ounce of that famous liquid gold, Château d’Yquem 95. Very cool idea.
My appetizer left me deflated, I confess. The reason? I had ordered the corn chowder with lobster, and guess what the chef sent out as an amusbe bouche? Corn chowder sans lobster!
So it was corn chowder twice in a row for me. Sigh...
That's why I kept eyeing my friend's delicious slow-poached egg with corn (yes, more corn) and chanterelles. A thing of beauty, don't you agree?
It was so pretty and so tasty that it deserves a zoomed-in shot:
My main was beef tenderloin with a bone marrow crust. You can't really go wrong with that pairing, so needless to say, it was absolutely delicious. Lovely contrast of textures, with the golden marrow crust crumbling in the mouth with each bite of the rare and tender meat. The sauce was intense and the vegetables brought a welcome crispness to the whole.
I'm not sure it was necessary to add to all that some faux olives à la Ferran Adrià. I've had Ferran's "olives" – ultra-delicate orbs that go plóc in the mouth, releasing the most intense extra-virgin oil taste. But these encapsulated "olives" were different, harsher, briny. Dispensable.
Then came the much-awaited sweet part of our lunch, the desserts rolled to our table in a trolley, the old-fashioned way (which I love).
We tried'em all, but all agreed the chocolate and caramel tarte was the clear winner. The crumbling, barely sweet crust, the velvety filling, the powdered cocoa on top.... ou la la!
Even after that we happily began yet another tasting fest once the multi-flavoured macarrons were served. Simply perfect.
In the end, we left Eleven Madison walking on clouds. Great room, great food. But oh, if we could only trade the forgettable little canapés for just one more slice of that choco-caramel tarte....
Eleven Madison Park: Av. Madison, 11, tel. (212) 889-0905
And here's a funky video of the restaurant: